2006 College Leaders Program: Day 26
Jun 23 2006 - 10:14am

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 26--June 21
Reported by:  Curtis Walton of Old Dominion University

Curtis Walton

    This morning we woke up and began a new day in the College Leader’s Program. After eating breakfast in Newcomb Hall, we walked over to the classroom and turned in the final versions of our culminating projects. It felt great to be done with the projects after so many days of hard work.
    When we arrived to class it was evident that we have only two days left in the College Leaders Program. This morning, Doug and Peter Easter of Easter Associates  spoke to us about lobbying in Virginia. A father and son team with several decades in the business, they told us that the most important thing about lobbying is to maintain one's integrity. After teaching us the basics of lobbying, four of us went before the class to lobby for a specific issue. The two positions were whether red light cameras should be used and whether or not to raise the gas tax in Virginia to solve the transportation problem. I lobbied before the class to not increase the gas tax to fund transportation.  
    Shortly after this, we began the budget game with Professor Tom Shields. This experience brought a new appreciation for those delegates who work on the budget and ultimately wind up in conference committee. The class was divided into the House and the Senate. Each of the groups was given additional spending items, reductions in spending, and revenue enhancement options.  Our task was to somehow develop a budget for Virginia. My group, the House, worked to bring down the billion dollar deficit that had been created. However, the Senate continued to spend money. Eventually, both groups had to come together and participate in a conference committee. Both groups disagreed on what to fund, what not to fund, and how to pay for it all.  We all soon realized that there was simply not enough money to pay for everything. Compromises were necessary. We finally managed to reach consensus on a budget.
    Before we left class, Marc Johnson (or "MJ" as we call him) and the other program managers gave us back our culminating projects.  Later that evening after arriving back at Bice Hall, we met with our groups and began to develop our presentations. At about nine o’clock, we practiced our presentations with the program mangers, and fielded questions to help us prepare for the presentation to the panel in the morning.

-- Curtis Walton, Old Dominion University

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 25
Jun 23 2006 - 9:33am

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 25--June 20
Reported by:  Chelsea Rock of the University of Richmond

I've got two words for you: Tim Kaine!

Yup, the wee CLPers got cozy with the big guy at the Capitol today. Our second field trip to Richmond was full of excitement and fun, bringing us up close and personal to Governor Kaine around a big conference table in the Patrick Henry Building. So far, it has been one of the main highlights of the trip and reminded me yet again how privileged I am to be able to see and engage in dialogue with just about every major (and minor!) leader in Virginia.

Today was a case and point. Last week, Attorney General Bob McDonnell graced us with his presence for a second time in a more personal setting, our very own CLP classroom. During his visit, I was able to ask him about his thoughts on Gov. Kaine's claim that, should the worst occur with the budget crisis, he could continue to run the Commonwealth on its current budget by executing his powers as Governor. Today I was able to ask the Governor the same question and get his perspective on this unprecedented time in our history.

Where else but Sorensen?

Before we chatted with Gov. Kaine, we were also able to hear from the wise Senator John Chichester, who affirmed my belief that there are honest and humble politicians in our Commonwealth that continually put Virginia above their own party politics. Other Kaine staffers like Felix-Sarfo Katanka and Steven Gould gave us their behind-the-scenes perspective on life inside the Governor's office. Delegate Rosalyn Dance, an inspirational woman, particularly for someone like myself who has no desire to run for office, told us how she rose from administrative work to city council to Mayor to the House of Delegates. Jody Wagner, Secretary of Finance, started us off that morning by educating us on the wiles of Virginia's budget.

My classmates and I agree — none of this would be possible without the incredible leadership of Marc and Sean. Never in my life would I expect to have the opportunities to talk with so many of my elected officials in a real-life, off-the-record, person-to-person dialogue, and we owe so much of the experiences we've had this far to them. Kudos to you both!

Tonight will be a typical college late night — our culminating projects are due tomorrow!

--Chelsea Rock, University of Richmond


"The Politics of Poverty"
Jun 22 2006 - 10:31am

Connie Jorgensen, a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2001, is the author of an op-ed in this week's issue of the C-Ville Weekly regarding "The Politics of Poverty."

Connie writes, "All too often we blame poor people for their poverty. We imply that
poverty is a choice with statements like “if they would just pull up
their socks and get a job they wouldn’t have to be poor.” “If they just
respected themselves” we say, “they wouldn’t have a problem.” Most
everyone seems to have a story about seeing someone “abuse” food stamps
by purchasing potato chips or soda. If the poor are responsible for
their condition, then it’s O.K. for us to tut-tut about their values
and move on to more important things, like cutting the estate tax.  Now
we can justify cutting programs because the poor don’t deserve our
help—and besides, because of the tax cuts, we can’t afford these social
programs anyway. On the other end of the spectrum, I have not heard a
single call to cut subsidies to big business in the wake of the
criminal behavior of Ken Lay and others like him. What about the
undeserving rich?"

Click here to read the full text of the article

Connie is the Director of Development and Public Relations at the Monticello Area Community Action Agency.

Jay and Barbara Kessler: "The Rainmakers"
Jun 22 2006 - 10:06am

Congratulations to Charlottesville Regional Board member Jay Kessler and his wife Barbara. The two were named this week to the "C-Ville 20"--a list of the top 20 movers and shakers in the Central Virginia area. Hailed as "the Rainmakers," Jay and Barbara were recognized for their tireless efforts as co-chairs of the capital campaign to raise money for Piedmont Virginia Community College.

From the article: "All told, the Kesslers helped raise $11.3 million for the school.
Earlier this year, the feat earned them statewide recognition from the
Virginia Community College System, which honored the couple with one of
its inaugural Chancellor’s Awards for Leadership in Philanthropy. They
earned the Medallion Award from PVCC itself, which recognizes
extraordinary service to the college and is given by the president and
college board. The money will be used for a new science building, for
improvements to existing facilities, and for funding more scholarships."

Click here to read the full text of the article.

Congratulations Jay and Barbara, and thank you both for all you do!

Block Comments in the RTD
Jun 22 2006 - 9:44am

Andy Block of Charlottesville, a member of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2006, was quoted in a recent Richmond Times-Dispatch article regarding graduation rates in Virginia.

Click here to read the article.

Political Leaders 2006 Profile: Conaway Haskins
Jun 22 2006 - 9:38am

Name: Conaway Bernard Haskins III
Age: 29
Born: I was born in Farmville and grew up in Lunenburg County, Virginia
Current Digs: I live in Chesterfield County, and I work in Petersburg.
Occupation: Program Officer with The Cameron Foundation, a philanthropic grantmaker serving the Petersburg region.
Favorite part about the job: Interacting with dedicated and passionate nonprofit, community, and government leaders.
First job ever? Cashier at the Hardee’s in South Hill.
Favorite book? Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Favorite movie? “A River Runs Through It”
Must See TV?  The Daily Show
Comfort food? Peach cobbler, blackberry cobbler…actually anything named “cobbler.” Basically, I’m addicted to Ukrop’s.
What's in your car CD player right now?  David Sedaris’ CD series, “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.”
Next journey? Paris
One thing people might be surprised to learn about you? I was classically-trained as a pianist.
Last gift you received?  Portable XM Satellite Radio player
Best advice you ever got?  Just be yourself. Having people respect you is more important than having them like you. 
Whom do you admire and why?  I really admire my maternal grandmother because despite all of the unpleasant things that happen in life, she always manages to find the silver lining in situations and discover something redeeming in everyone that she knows. Plus, she’s the sweetest, classiest lady I’ve ever known.
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why? I’d love to have dinner with Doug Wilder. Very few Virginians truly understand that he has been part of four historic Virginia elections. In addition to his notable statewide wins as Lt. Governor and then Governor, he was the first black state Senator since Reconstruction and the first elected mayor of any race in the modern history of Virginia’s capital city. Despite the controversy that sometimes surrounds him, from both an electoral and policy perspective, Doug Wilder is arguably the greatest politician in the history of modern Virginia and one of the best of all-time. He demonstrated that the Commonwealth indeed had room for African Americans at the table of public leadership, and his life and career motivated me to pursue my own path in politics and public service.
Ambition, political or otherwise? For now, my goal is to evolve as a writer into a more noteworthy voice among Virginia’s political commentators and policy analysts. Being a pundit seems like a lot of fun. Personally, I want to lose 30 pounds and approach running a 9-minute mile.   
Describe a perfect day. For me, a perfect day would be spent traveling with my wife through Virginia’s great wine country sampling the latest offerings from the various wineries and touring the vineyards and wine-production facilities. Of course, I’d definitely watch my level of consumption as to not end up meeting some of Virginia’s finest state and local law enforcement officers up close and personal!

Note: Conaway is the author of an article regarding public schools published this week in the Richmond Style Weekly.
Click here to read the article.

Thank You, Beth Davis
Jun 21 2006 - 11:44am

The board members, alumni, and staff at the Sorensen Institute would like to express our deepest sympathies to the family of Elizabeth Davis, who recently lost her battle against Hodgkin's disease.

A graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of Fall 1994, Beth had been a determined and sincere advocate for quality public education in Virginia ever since she started as a kindergarten teacher in Pulaski County in 1973. We can all be proud of the work and creativity she lent the efforts to improve our schools. The Commonwealth was fortunate to have her. She will be missed. Thank you, Beth.

Click here to read a recent article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch about Beth's life.

New College in Martinsville
Jun 21 2006 - 11:18am

Governor Tim Kaine recently announced that he signed legislation creating the New College Institute in Martinsville. The Sorensen Institute is proud to report that Governor Kaine also appointed two of our folks to the New College Board of Directors: Elizabeth Haskell, a member of our Southside Regional Board, and Kimble Reynolds, a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of 1997.

Click here to read a recent Roanoke Times article about the New College

Running in the 6th
Jun 21 2006 - 11:05am

Barbara Pryor of Amherst, a graduate of the first Political Leaders Program class (Spring 2004) recently announced that she will run as an Independent against Republican incumbent Bob Goodlatte in the Sixth U.S. Congressional District.

Click here to read coverage of this race.

Pryor joins two other Independents who will stand against the Congressman. Goodlatte will face no Democratic challenger for the fourth  straight election.


Running in Manassass
Jun 21 2006 - 10:56am

Jeanette Rishell of Manassass, a graduate of the Candidate Training Program Class of 2006, is the new Democratic nominee for the 50th seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Click here to read coverage of the recent primary.

Rishell is running against Republican nominee and Manassass City Council member Jackson Miller. The election will be held on November 7.

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